Mazda North American Operations announced today at the L. A. Auto Show that the racing version of the 2014 Mazda6 will make its competition debut at the Rolex 24 at Daytona on Jan. 26-27, 2013 in Daytona Beach, Fla. The machine will be powered by a Mazda "SKYACTIV-D Clean Diesel" engine and is being developed for the new GX class of the Grand-Am Rolex Series. This will be the first time a diesel-powered vehicle of any type has ever raced at the Rolex 24. Mazda will be seeking its 24th class win in the American endurance classic, having most recently won in 2008 and 2010.
“We have been eager to announce this car for months, but had to wait until the production car was revealed," John Doonan, motorsports director, Mazda North American Operations noted of the Mazda6 SKYACTIV-D. "The SpeedSource engineering team, working with the Mazda engineers, have been flat-out for months on engine development. We're happy to report that the engine is meeting the performance targets for both power and endurance. That means 400+ hp for over 50 hours, with an engine that includes a very long list of production Mazda parts.
"This is not a pure race engine; it is a production block SKYACTIV-D. We're excited about having our newest engine powering our newest car.”
Grand-Am announced the new class earlier this year to allow for cars and technologies not currently involved in the Rolex Series. Mazda's SKYACTIV-D turbo diesel engine was one of the initial technologies specified. Other eligible models include the Lotus Evora GX, Porsche Cayman, Audi TT, BMW 1 Series, Chevrolet Cruze, Ford Focus (four door), Hyundai Genesis, Subaru BRZ, Scion FR-S, Nissan 370Z or Altima, and Volkswagen EOS.
The class will be developed with performance levels that complement the current DP and GT classes. No changes to GT performance levels are expected.
The new class addresses an issue that most categories of motorsports are increasingly grappling with – how to more effectively engage both automotive manufacturers and a wider pool of potential fans by offering competition relevant to the automaker's product lines and marketing objectives, and a racing product that can connect with a youth-oriented culture that traditional styles of racing might miss.
“A number of OEMs have expressed their desire to field cars that wouldn't fit within our current two-class structure, so it makes good sense for us to find a way to accommodate those desires and in the process make something that's already great – the Rolex Series – even better,” explained Grand-Am president and CEO Ed Bennett. “When there are manufacturers looking to compete, we need to find a model that works to include them in the Rolex Series. It's good for the fans, providing another whole group of exciting cars they can relate to.”